The popular robot kaiju King Joe was named after him.
Tetsuo Kinjo was born in Naha on Okinawa in July 1938. As a child, he gained firsthand experience with the horrors of war and the repression of the imperial Japanese government, witnessing mass suicide and racial discrimination against the native Okinawan people, among other things. Things did not get better for the young man after the American forces occupied Okinawa, as he was required a visa to study in at Tamagawa Univeristy in Tokyo and witnessed the United States set up military bases on the island, which he saw as an outrage. Much of these experiences with war and alienation deeply influence his stories.
It was during the 1960s in which Tetsuo Kinjo met fellow screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa. Sekizawa introduced him to Hajime Tsuburaya, and the two began to work together on many award-winning productions at Tokyo Broadcasting System. This eventually led Kinjo to Eiji Tsuburaya and Tsuburaya Productions, where Eiji, impressed with the young man, gave him work on some of his most important projects, including Ultra Q (then under the title of Unbalance). Kinjo wrote several sample scripts for the show and much of the series' outline.
Eiji was very proud of Kinjo's work on Ultra Q and his ability to blend social commentary with science-fiction adventures, so he was made head writer of his next series: Ultraman. Kinjo once again wrote the series' outline (under the prototype of Bemlar: Science Investigation Agency), and with the help of Eiji, Hajime, and Tohl Narita would further refine the series and its characters, even when the first episode (written by him and Shinichi Sekizawa) was beginning production.
With Ultraman being a runaway success, Tetsuo Kinjo was brought in as head writer once more for Tsuburaya Productions next major project: Ultraseven. As before, Kinjo made social commentary one of the major focuses on Ultraseven's writing; with themes of genocide, racism, war, and oppression being prevalent. Eiji was deeply moved by Kinjo's ability to express his experiences as an Okinawan in World War 2 and encouraged his staff to also tackle controversial issues through the alien invasion scripts.
In 1969, the United States' occupation of Okinawa ended and the island was returned to the Japanese government. Kinjo decided it was an opportunity to return to his home, and he left Tsuburaya Productions. He began writing for traditional stage dramas and also directed the opening ceremonies of Expo '75, doing only one more story for Return of Ultraman in 1971.
Sadly, Tetsuo Kinjo died on February 26, 1976. While repairing his roof, he slipped and fell to his death. He was only 37 years old.
In 2013, his former writing study in his hometown was transformed into the "Tetsuo Kinjo Museum", which displays his original scripts, photos from series production, and other artifacts from his life and behind the scenes of the Ultra series he worked so hard on.
Tetsuo Kinjo wrote the following episodes for the following series:
- Ultra Q
- Ultra Operation No.1
- The Blue Stone of Baradhi
- The Lawless Monster Zone
- The Mysterious Dinosaur Base
- Oil S.O.S.
- Brother from Another Planet
- Terror on Route 87
- The Prince of Monsters: Part 1
- The Prince of Monsters: Part 2
- The Challenge Into Subterra
- Phantom of the Snow Mountains
- The Forbidden Words
- The Little Hero
- Farewell, Ultraman
- The Invisible Challenger
- The Green Terror
- The Secret of the Lake
- Respond, Max
- Alien Prisoner 303
- The Targeted Town
- Fly to the Mountain of Evil
- The Ultra Guard Goes West: Part 1
- The Ultra Guard Goes West: Part 2
- Escape Space X
- Showdown at 140 Degrees Below Zero
- The Vanishing City
- Ambassador of the Nonmalt
- The Greatest Invasion in History Part 1
- The Greatest Invasion in History Part 2
- Return of Ultraman